Amid Unionization, Starbucks Corp. Rethinks Open Bathroom Policy
Coffee chain focuses on the safety of workers rather than political correctness.
In 2018, Starbucks boldly announced that you don’t have to be a customer to use a Starbucks bathroom because “any person who enters our spaces … is considered a customer.”
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This was after the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks cafe called the police about two black men who asked to use the bathroom without purchasing anything and then refused to leave. The arrests, captured by people using cellphones, went viral. The company closed more than 8000 of its U.S. stores the next month for racial bias training for its employees.
“I am personally committed to acting on several fronts to make sure it never happens again,” said then Chief Executive Kevin Johnson.
Fast forward to 2022, when Starbucks employees are unionizing around the country in an effort to improve working conditions. Johnson is out and former CEO Howard Schultz is back.
Employees reportedly complained to Schultz that Starbucks bathrooms in some locales had become a favorite destinations for heroin addicts. The employees said they risked being poked by dirty needles left in bathrooms and felt unsafe.
Starbucks said this week that it is closing 16 stores where workers reported incidents related to drug use and disruptions in cafes. Workers will be transferred to other stores. “We cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work,” explained company spokespersons.
The closures include six stores each in Seattle and Los Angeles, two in Portland, Ore., and single locations in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
So Starbucks “Use of the Third Place Policy” is history. From now on, you have to buy a cup of coffee before you shoot up in the bathroom!